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VTEC (Variable Valve Timing & Lift

Electronic Control) is a system developed
by Honda to improve the volumetric
efficiency of a four-stroke internal
combustion engine, resulting in higher
performance at high RPM, and lower fuel
consumption at low RPM. The VTEC
system uses two (or occasionally three)
camshaft profiles and hydraulically selects
between profiles. It was invented by Honda
engineer Ikuo Kajitani.[1][2] It is distinctly
different from standard VVT (variable
valve timing) systems which change only
the valve timings and do not change the
camshaft profile or valve lift in any way.

Context and description

Japan levies a tax based on engine
displacement,[3] and Japanese auto
manufacturers have correspondingly
focused their research and development
efforts toward improving the performance
of their smaller engine designs. One
method for increasing performance into a
static displacement includes forced
induction, as with models such as the
Toyota Supra and Nissan 300ZX which
used turbocharger applications and the
Toyota MR2 which used a supercharger for
some model years. Another approach is
the rotary engine used in the Mazda RX-7
and RX-8. A third option is to change the
cam timing profile, of which Honda VTEC
was the first successful commercial
design for altering the profile in real-time.

The VTEC system provides the engine with

valve timing optimized for both low and
high RPM operations. In basic form, the
single cam lobe and follower/rocker arm
of a conventional engine is replaced with a
locking multi-part rocker arm and two cam
profiles: one optimized for low-RPM
stability and fuel efficiency, and the other
designed to maximize high-RPM power
output. The switching operation between
the two cam lobes is controlled by the ECU
which takes account of engine oil pressure,
engine temperature, vehicle speed, engine
speed and throttle position. Using these
inputs, the ECU is programmed to switch
from the low lift to the high lift cam lobes
when certain conditions are met. At the
switch point a solenoid is actuated that
allows oil pressure from a spool valve to
operate a locking pin which binds the high
RPM rocker arm to the low RPM ones.
From this point on, the valves open and
close according to the high-lift profile,
which opens the valve further and for a
longer time. The switch-over point is
variable, between a minimum and
maximum point, and is determined by
engine load. The switch-down back from
high to low RPM cams is set to occur at a
lower engine speed than the switch-up
(representing a hysteresis cycle) to avoid a
situation in which the engine is asked to
operate continuously at or around the
switch-over point.

The older approach to timing adjustments

is to produce a camshaft with a valve
timing profile that is better suited to low-
RPM operation. The improvements in low-
RPM performance, which is where most
street-driven automobiles operate a
majority of the time, occur in trade for a
power and efficiency loss at higher RPM
ranges. Correspondingly, VTEC attempts
to combine low-RPM fuel efficiency and
stability with high-RPM performance.

This section does not cite any sources.
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VTEC, the original Honda variable valve

control system, originated from REV
(Revolution-Modulated Valve Control)
introduced on the CBR400 in 1983 known
as HYPER VTEC. In the regular four-stroke
automobile engine, the intake and exhaust
valves are actuated by lobes on a
camshaft. The shape of the lobes
determines the timing, lift and duration of
each valve. Timing refers to an angle
measurement of when a valve is opened or
closed with respect to the piston position
(BTDC or ATDC). Lift refers to how much
the valve is opened. Duration refers to how
long the valve is kept open. Due to the
behavior of the working fluid (air and fuel
mixture) before and after combustion,
which have physical limitations on their
flow, as well as their interaction with the
ignition spark, the optimal valve timing, lift
and duration settings under low RPM
engine operations are very different from
those under high RPM. Optimal low RPM
valve timing lift and duration settings
would result in insufficient filling of the
cylinder with fuel and air at high RPM, thus
greatly limiting engine power output.
Conversely, optimal high RPM valve timing
lift and duration settings would result in
very rough low RPM operation and difficult
idling. The ideal engine would have fully
variable valve timing, lift and duration, in
which the valves would always open at
exactly the right point, lift high enough and
stay open just the right amount of time for
the engine speed and load in use.


Introduced as a DOHC (Dual overhead

camshaft) system in Japan in the 1989
Honda Integra[1] XSi which used the
160 bhp (120 kW) B16A engine. The same
year, Europe saw the arrival of VTEC in the
Honda Civic and Honda CRX 1.6i-VT, using
a 150 bhp (110 kW) B16A1 variant. The
United States market saw the first VTEC
system with the introduction of the 1991
Acura NSX,[4] which used a 3-litre DOHC
C30A V6 with 270 bhp (200 kW). DOHC
VTEC engines soon appeared in other
vehicles, such as the 1992 Acura Integra
GS-R (160 bhp (120 kW)B17A1), and later
in the 1993 Honda Prelude VTEC (195 bhp
(145 kW) H22A) and Honda Del Sol VTEC
(160 bhp (120 kW) B16A3). The Integra
Type R (1995–2000) available in the
Japanese market produces 197 bhp
(147 kW; 200 PS) using a B18C 1.8-litre
engine, producing more horsepower per
litre than most super-cars at the time.
Honda has also continued to develop
other varieties and today offers several
varieties of VTEC, such as i-VTEC and i-
VTEC Hybrid.


This section does not cite any sources.

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Honda also applied the system to SOHC
(single overhead camshaft) engines such
as the D-Series and J-Series Engines,
which share a common camshaft for both
intake and exhaust valves. The trade-off
was that Honda's SOHC engines benefited
from the VTEC mechanism only on the
intake valves. This is because VTEC
requires a third center rocker arm and cam
lobe (for each intake and exhaust side),
and, in the SOHC engine, the spark plugs
are situated between the two exhaust
rocker arms, leaving no room for the VTEC
rocker arm. Additionally, the center lobe on
the camshaft cannot be utilized by both
the intake and the exhaust, limiting the
VTEC feature to one side.

However, beginning with the J37A2 3.7L

SOHC V6 engine introduced on all 2009-
2012 Acura RL SH-AWD models, SOHC
VTEC was incorporated for use with intake
and exhaust valves, using a total of six
cam lobes and six rocker arms per
cylinder. The intake and exhaust rocker
shafts contain primary and secondary
intake and exhaust rocker arms,
respectively. The primary rocker arm
contains the VTEC switching piston, while
the secondary rocker arm contains the
return spring. The term "primary" does not
refer to which rocker arm forces the valve
down during low-RPM engine operation.
Rather, it refers to the rocker arm which
contains the VTEC switching piston and
receives oil from the rocker shaft.

The primary exhaust rocker arm contacts

a low-profile camshaft lobe during low-
RPM engine operation. Once VTEC
engagement occurs, the oil pressure
flowing from the exhaust rocker shaft into
the primary exhaust rocker arm forces the
VTEC switching piston into the secondary
exhaust rocker arm, thereby locking both
exhaust rocker arms together. The high-
profile camshaft lobe which normally
contacts the secondary exhaust rocker
arm alone during low-RPM engine
operation is able to move both exhaust
rocker arms together which are locked as
a unit. The same occurs for the intake
rocker shaft, except that the high-profile
camshaft lobe operates the primary rocker

The J37A2 is able to use both intake and

exhaust VTEC by use of a novel design of
the intake rocker arm. Each exhaust valve
on the J37A2 corresponds to one primary
and one secondary exhaust rocker arm.
Therefore, there are a total of twelve
primary exhaust rocker arms and twelve
secondary exhaust rocker arms. However,
each secondary intake rocker arm is
shaped similar to a "Y" which allows it to
contact two intake valves at once. One
primary intake rocker arm corresponds to
each secondary intake rocker arm. As a
result of this design, there are only six
primary intake rocker arms and six
secondary intake rocker arms.

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The earliest VTEC-E implementation is a
variation of SOHC VTEC which is used to
increase combustion efficiency at low
RPM while maintaining the mid range
performance of non-vtec engines. VTEC-E
is the first version of VTEC to employ the
use of roller rocker arms and because of
that, it forgoes the need for having 3 intake
lobes for actuating the two valves—two
lobes for non-VTEC operation (one small
and one medium-sized lobe) and one lobe
for VTEC operation (the biggest lobe).
Instead, there are two different intake cam
profiles per cylinder: a very mild cam lobe
with little lift and a normal cam lobe with
moderate lift. Because of this, at low RPM,
when VTEC is not engaged, one of the two
intake valves is allowed to open only a very
small amount due to the mild cam lobe,
forcing most of the intake charge through
the other open intake valve with the normal
cam lobe. This induces swirl of the intake
charge which improves air/fuel
atomization in the cylinder and allows for
a leaner fuel mixture to be used. As the
engine's speed and load increase, both
valves are needed to supply a sufficient
mixture. When engaging VTEC mode, a
pre-defined threshold for MPH (must be
moving), RPM and load must be met
before the computer actuates a solenoid
which directs pressurized oil into a sliding
pin, just like with the original VTEC. This
sliding pin connects the intake rocker arm
followers together so that, now, both
intake valves are following the "normal"
camshaft lobe instead of just one of them.
When in VTEC, since the "normal" cam lobe
has the same timing and lift as the intake
cam lobes of the SOHC non-VTEC engines,
both engines have identical performance in
the upper powerband assuming everything
else is the same. This variant of the VTEC-
E is used in some D-series engines.

With the later VTEC-E implementations, the

only difference it has with the earlier VTEC-
E is that the second normal cam profile
has been replaced with a more aggressive
cam profile which is identical to the
original VTEC high-speed cam profile. This
in essence supersedes VTEC and the
earlier VTEC-E implementations since the
fuel and low RPM torque benefits of the
earlier VTEC-E are combined with the high
performance of the original VTEC. There
are 3 intake cam lobes: 2 for the low-RPM
mode (1 for almost closed valve, 1 for
normally opened) and 1 for the powerful
mode when the VTEC solenoid is
activated. The lowest RPM for activating
the VTEC is 2500, or it may be higher if the
load is weak - ECM dependant. With the
VTEC solenoid is on the 3-rd biggest lobe
begins to push all the intake valves with
the more aggressively profile. This variant
of the VTEC-E is used in the F23A engine.

3-Stage VTEC
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3-Stage VTEC is a version that employs

three different cam profiles to control
intake valve timing and lift. Due to this
version of VTEC being designed around a
SOHC valve head, space was limited; so
VTEC can modify only the opening and
closing of the intake valves. The low-end
fuel economy improvements of VTEC-E
and the performance of conventional
VTEC are combined in this application.
From idle to 2500-3000 RPM, depending
on load conditions, one intake valve fully
opens while the other opens just slightly,
enough to prevent pooling of fuel behind
the valve, also called 12-valve mode. This
12 Valve mode results in swirl of the intake
charge which increases combustion
efficiency, resulting in improved low end
torque and better fuel economy. At 3000-
5400 RPM, depending on load, one of the
VTEC solenoids engages, which causes
the second valve to lock onto the first
valve's camshaft lobe. Also called 16-valve
mode, this method resembles a normal
engine operating mode and improves the
mid-range power curve. At 5500-7000
RPM, the second VTEC solenoid engages
(both solenoids now engaged) so that
both intake valves are using a middle, third
camshaft lobe. The third lobe is tuned for
high-performance and provides peak
power at the top end of the RPM range.
In Newer version of 3-Stage i-VTEC
combined VTC and PGM-FI to allow ECU
to control full range of mode to archive
greater fuel economy improvements and
performance. Honda CR-Z able to switch
between low-end mode and standard
mode from 1000 rpm to 2250 rpm
uninterrupted and engage to high cam
mode from 2250 rpm upward on SOHC.

Honda i-VTEC (intelligent-VTEC)[5] is a
system that combines VTEC with Honda's
VTC (Variable Timing Control), a
continuously variable camshaft phasing
system used on the intake camshaft of
DOHC VTEC engines. The technology first
appeared on Honda's K-series four-cylinder
engine family in 2001. Most Honda or
Acura 4 cylinder powered vehicles sold in
the United States of America used i-VTEC
by the 2002 model year with the exception
being the 2002 Honda Accord.
VTEC controls of valve lift and valve
duration are still limited to distinct low-
and high-RPM profiles, but the intake
camshaft is now capable of advancing
between 25 and 50 degrees, depending
upon engine configuration. Phasing is
implemented by a computer-controlled, oil-
driven adjustable cam sprocket. Both
engine load and RPM affect VTEC. The
intake phase varies from fully retarded at
idle to somewhat advanced at full throttle
and low RPM. The effect is further
optimization of torque output, especially at
low and midrange RPM. There are two
types of i-VTEC K series engines which are
explained in the next section.

Honda's J-Series SOHC engines use an

entirely different system also, confusingly,
marketed as i-VTEC. Honda J-Series
Engines using i-VTEC combine SOHC VTEC
operation with Honda VCM (Variable
Cylinder Management) variable
displacement technology to improve fuel
economy under light loads.
K-series …

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The K-Series engines have two different

types of i-VTEC system implementations.
The first type is for performance engines
like the K20A2 or K20Z3 used in the 2002-
2006 RSX Type S or the 2006-2011 Civic Si
and the second type is for economy
engines like the K20A3 or K24A4 used in
the 2002-2005 Civic Si or 2003-2007
Accord. The performance i-VTEC system
is basically the same as the DOHC VTEC
system of the B16A's. Both intake and
exhaust cams have 3 cam lobes per
cylinder. However, the valvetrain has the
added benefit of roller rockers and VTC
continuously variable intake cam timing.
Performance i-VTEC is a combination of
conventional DOHC VTEC with VTC (which
operates for intake valves only). The VTC
is available in the economy and
performance i-VTEC engines.
The economy i-VTEC used in
K20A3/K24A4 engines is more like the
SOHC VTEC-E in that the intake cam has
only two lobes, one very small and one
larger, as well as no VTEC on the exhaust
cam. At low RPM only one valve on the
intake opens fully, promoting combustion
chamber swirl and improved fuel
atomization. This allows a leaner air/fuel
mixture to be used, improving fuel
economy. At higher RPM, both intake
valves run off the larger intake cam lobe,
improving total air flow and top-end power.
The two types of engines are easily
distinguishable by the factory rated power
output: the performance engines make
around 200 hp (150 kW) or more in stock
form, while the economy engines do not
make much more than 160 hp (120 kW).

R-series …

The i-VTEC system in the R-Series engine

uses a modified SOHC VTEC system
consisting of one small and two large
lobes. The large lobes operate the intake
valves directly while the small lobe is
engaged during VTEC. Unlike typical VTEC
systems, the system in the R-Series engine
operates in a 'reverse' fashion engaging
only at low to mid RPMs. At low RPMs, the
small lobe locks onto one of the larger
lobes and keeps one of the intake valves
partially open during the compression
cycle, similar to the Atkinson Cycle. The
ability for Honda to switch between
Atkinson cycle and normal cycle allows
excellent fuel efficiency without sacrificing
too much performance.
i-VTEC with Variable Cylinder
Management (VCM)

In 2003, Honda introduced an i-VTEC V6

(an update of the J-series) that includes
Honda's cylinder deactivation technology
which closes the valves on one bank of (3)
cylinders during light load and low speed
(below 80 km/h (50 mph)) operation.
According to Honda, "VCM technology
works on the principle that a vehicle only
requires a fraction of its power output at
cruising speeds. The system electronically
deactivates cylinders to reduce fuel
consumption. The engine is able to run on
3, 4, or all 6 cylinders based on the power
requirement, essentially getting the best of
both worlds. V6 power when accelerating
or climbing, as well as the efficiency of a
smaller engine when cruising." The
technology was originally introduced to the
US on the 2005 Honda Odyssey minivan,
and can now be found on the Honda
Accord Hybrid, the 2006 Honda Pilot, and
the 2008 Honda Accord. Example: EPA
estimates for the 2011 (271 hp SOHC 3.5L)
V6 Accord are 24 mpg combined vs. 27 in
the two 4-cylinder-equipped models.

i-VTEC VCM was also used in the 1.3-liter

LDA engine used in the 2001-2005 Honda
Civic Hybrid.[6]

i-VTEC i …

A version of i-VTEC with direct injection,

first used in 2004 Honda Stream.[7] Direct
injection 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC I gasoline
•The 2-litre DOHC i-VTEC I integrates the i-
VTEC system which uses the VTEC and
VTC which uses a direct injection system
for an air-fuel ratio of up to 65:1 for an
unprecedented level of ultra-lean
combustion. Stable combustion is
achieved by using less fuel than
conventional direct injection engines which
have an air-fuel ratio of 40:1.

•Combustion control through the use of

high-precision EGR valves and a newly
developed high-performance catalyst
enable the 2.0 litre DOHC i-VTEC I lean-
burn direct injection engine which qualify
as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle.

The AVTEC (Advanced VTEC) engine was
first announced in 2006.[8] It combines
continuously variable valve lift and timing
control with continuously variable phase
control. Honda originally planned to
produce vehicles with AVTEC engines
within next 3 years. Although it was
speculated that it would first be used in
2008 Honda Accord, the vehicle instead
utilizes the existing i-VTEC system. As of
late 2017, no Honda vehicles use the
AVTEC system.

A related U.S. patent (6,968,819) was filed

on 2005-01-05.[9][10]

The VTEC TURBO engine series were
introduced in 2013 as part of the Earth
Dreams Technology range and include new
features such as gasoline direct injection,
turbochargers, Dual Cam VTC and VTEC
on the exhaust profile instead of the
intake, marking the end of the 'traditional
sound' of VTEC in this engine. VTEC
implementation on the exhaust rocker
arms causes the turbo to be spooled
quicker, eliminating turbo lag. VTEC Turbo
engines come in three displacement
capacities: a 1.0 liter 3-cylinder, a 1.5 liter
4-cylinder, and a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder.
Initial implementation for European
vehicles included 2-litre 4-cylinder
turbocharged engine used from 2015
Honda Civic Type R until present, which
included Euro 6 emissions

VTEC in motorcycles
Apart from the Japanese market-only
Honda CB400SF Super Four HYPER
VTEC,[14] introduced in 1999, the first
worldwide implementation of VTEC
technology in a motorcycle occurred with
the introduction of Honda's VFR800
sportbike in 2002. Similar to the SOHC
VTEC-E style, one intake valve remains
closed until a threshold of 7000 RPM is
reached, then the second valve is opened
by an oil-pressure actuated pin. The dwell
of the valves remains unchanged, as in the
automobile VTEC-E, and little extra power
is produced, but with a smoothing-out of
the torque curve. Critics maintain that
VTEC adds little to the VFR experience,
while increasing the engine's complexity.
Honda seemed to agree, as their VFR1200,
a model announced in October 2009, came
to replace the VFR800, which abandons
the VTEC concept in favor of a large
capacity narrow-vee "unicam", i.e., SOHC,
engine. However, the 2014 VFR800
reintroduced the VTEC system from the
2002-2009 VFR motorcycle.

Honda incorporated the technology into

the NC700 series, including the NC700D
Integra, released in 2012, using a single
camshaft to provide two timing routines
for the intake valves.[15][16]

1. "The VTEC Engine" . Honda Motor Co.,
Ltd. Retrieved 2011-03-11.
2. "The 'Father' of VTEC" . Honda Motor
Co., Ltd. Retrieved 2011-12-04.
3. "Overview of Automobile Taxes"
(PDF). Aichi Prefectural Government
Office. Aichi Prefecture. Retrieved
4. "VTEC - History & Technology - Honda
Tuning Magazine" .
superstreetonline.com. 20 May 2009.
Retrieved 27 March 2018.
5. "acura.com" . acura.com. Retrieved
6. "Honda Civic Hybrid Technology" .
Autospeed.com. Retrieved
7. "Honda Worldwide" .
World.honda.com. Archived from the
original on 2014-05-15. Retrieved
8. Nunez, Alex (2006-09-25). "Honda
reveals the Advanced VTEC engine" .
Autoblog.com. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
9. Tan, Paul. "Honda Files Advanced
VTEC Patent" . Paultan.org. Retrieved
10. "A-VTEC Details Break Cover at
USPTO; TOV Analyzes" . Vtec.net.
Retrieved 2010-12-04.
11. "Honda reveals three new turbo VTEC
engines, including Civic Type R 2.0L" .
autoblog.com. Retrieved 27 March
12. Honda Develops VTEC TURBO Direct
Injection Gasoline Turbo Engine That
Achieves Class-leading Output and
Environmental Performance
Archived 2013-12-09 at the Wayback
13. "クラストップレベルの出力性能と環
エンジン「VTEC TURBO」を新開発" .
www.honda.co.jp. Retrieved 27 March
14. "Honda Worldwide | Technology Close-
up" . World.honda.com. Archived from
the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved
15. Hanlon, Mike. "Honda announces next
generation motorcycle engines with
outstanding fuel economy and
useability" . Retrieved 28 May 2012.
16. Beeler, Jensen. "700cc Honda Integra
Motor for Mid-Sized Motorcycles" .
Asphalt & Rubber. Retrieved 28 May
"Technology Close-up" . Honda Motor Co.,
Ltd. 2004. Retrieved 2006-07-25.
"Honda Worldwide Technology Closeup" .
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. 2004. Archived from
the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved
"Honda Worldwide IVTEC Video" . Honda
Motor Co., Ltd. 2009. Archived from the
original on 2014-05-15. Retrieved

External links
Honda tech pages: VTEC , i-VTEC
DOHC , S2000 2.0L DOHC VTEC , Type-R
2.0L DOHC i-VTEC , 2.0L DOHC i-VTEC I ,
V6 3.0L i-VTEC , V6 3.5L VTEC
Honda Technology Picture Book, VTEC
World Honda: New i-VTEC Technology
¿What is the Honda VTEC?
Retrieved from

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